Character-building Start to 2021 GT & Prototype Challenge Season for Alex Cascatău
Defending GT & Prototype Challenge champion Alex Cascatău re-joined team mate Alain Berg and Baticonsult Racing on Sunday for a full-on test day ahead of the Hockenheim season-opener but engine failure put paid to their hopes of some fruitful sessions around Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
Romanian Alex Cascatău enjoyed an ultra-successful maiden season in the Dutch-based GT & Prototype Challenge in 2020, the former RES A2 champion taking class honours five times, three of those being outright wins. He did all that alongside Alain Berg in Baticonsult Racing’s Norma M20 FC. Despite the stout challenge of Deldiche Racing’s turbocharged Normas, Baticonsult Racing took the title and have already announced its bid to defend the CN crown in 2021.
All of the behind-the-scenes preparation was supposed to be put to the test last weekend when the team got back together to do a full ‘systems check’ operation while clocking in some much-needed miles on Belgium’s most famous Grand Prix track, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in the Ardennes forest. Alex, fresh from a podium finish in the Romanian Endurance Series’ (RES) longest race of the season, the RES 500 Kilometers, flew back to Belgium to drive the Norma for the first time since Assen last year.
The plan for the day was straight-forward, the team looking to work through a task list that first included some run-in laps aimed at getting the mighty 2.0-liter engine up to temperature. Unfortunately, it was during this morning run that a conrod grenaded through the block without prior warning.
With merely days to spare before the team has to travel to Germany to partake in the opening round of the GT & Prototype Challenge at Hockenheim in Baden-Württemberg, the race to find a viable solution is well and truly on since arriving on a bicycle would prove inadequate to fight the three Deldiche Racing Normas that are planned to contest the German round.
If all goes well, action at the part-time host of the German Formula 1 Grand Prix will commence on Friday, May 21, with a 40-minute practice session in the morning. Another practice session as well as qualifying are also scheduled for Friday ahead of two races, one on Saturday (10:25 AM local time) and another on Sunday (12:50 PM local time). Both are set to feature packed grids as the GT & Prototype Challenge entrants will share the track with the Supercar Challenge racers.
I was so eager to get going and go back testing with Alain &Baticonsult Racing again. I hadn't driven the car in a long time and we planned a full day programme to run the engine in and wanted to go through a list of set-up changes afterwards. Unfortunately that wasn't to be as our motor expired after merely 10 laps of running in, and we're now racing against the clock to find a solution to be on the grid in Hockenheim.
2021 GT & Prototype Challenge Calendar
1. 21-23 May – Hockenheim
2. 4-6 June – Spa-Francorchamps
3. 16-18 July – Zolder
4. 6-8 August – Assen
5. 17-19 September – Assen
6. 16-17 October – Spa-Francorchamps
7. 29-31 October – Assen
Photo credit: Dennisnoten.com Photography / Skylimit Events
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